With an active development community, you can always count on regular releases as WordPress evolves. WordPress 3.6 is currently in beta 3 with the option to download and test it. There is also a plugin called WordPress Beta Tester you can use to test out the new stuff. Even with this plugin, I would highly recommend setting up a dummy WordPress site to play with 3.6. Do not use your production site. So far, 150 contributors have made over 100 changes to WordPress.
Mark Jaquith, lead developer for the 3.6 release was quoted back in December regarding his intentions for the release:
I’d personally like the focus of the release to be about content editing (revisions, autosave, workflow, editing modes, etc)
Here are some of the nice new features you can expect:
Nicer post revision comparison
The current version of WordPress is difficult to use because the contrast between colors is weak. Users are stuck trying to discern red on red and green on green which is not ideal. WP 3.6 includes better contrast and an overall polished look. Users now have access to Previous and Next buttons that allow for easy browsing of revisions. This can be really helpful with multiple authors.
Also helpful for multiple authors, WordPress 3.6 improves on the feature of post locking. With 3.6, blogs with multiple authors will be able to work on a post together without losing their modifications. This is accomplished by locking posts during editing. When a second author attempts to open a post that is being edited, they will receive a warning that it is locked. The second author will have the ability to take control of the post, or abandon their attempt to edit.
Nicer Post Format Interface
Post formats were released in version 3.1, and have relied on some hand-coding to implement. They are useful for changing how post content is displayed without changing the content itself. The new post format interface will look something like this:
Improved post auto-save
The underlying goal of this enhancement is to prevent authors from ever losing a post. Historically, the WordPress auto-save feature was subject to an unbroken internet connection and server availability. With WP 3.6, the auto-save will occur every 15 seconds with the remote server, or locally if that connection is unavailable. The local copy will then be synced with the server. This is made possible in part by modern browsers.
Bundled Theme Improvements
Personally, I have never used the TwentyThirteen or any of it’s predecessor themes on a production site. But it is a handy foundation on which to build a the functionality of a WordPress site before looking at a design. In WordPress 3.6, the bundled theme comes with some significant improvements. Demo it here. The developers have been pretty bold with the changes this go around.
Also a relatively new feature to the WordPress core, custom menus are being improved upon further. The new menu UI will include a more polished checkbox select system, an accordion menu feature (wahoo!) and enhanced help text.
The new UI has a more defined workflow, forcing the user the select the necessary options such as adding menu items. They do this by blocking all other options that are out of sequence. The UI is further improved with a big “create new menu” button at the beginning.
WordPress 3.6 was set to release April 23rd of this year. Mid-way through May, it seems like the developers have made a wise choice to not compromise quality and attention to detail in order to make a deadline. I agree and wish them the best of luck. Thanks for working tirelessly on this release.
Although nothing groundbreaking is found in this release, it addresses some significant bugs and polishes the overall functionality. It’s better not to roll out a drastic change too often anyway.